A Dresser Turned Media Cabinet Reclaims its Place

A year ago when I was living in my cozy little condo, I had a bit of a furniture meltdown. More specifically, I had too much of it, and the pieces neither fit my space nor served their respective purposes. I arranged and rearranged; I made offerings to family members, none of whom wanted the stuff either; I sold the biggest piece (a giant media cabinet I purchased a decade ago); and I threatened to either sell or donate the rest.

Parting with things is not usually a problem for me, except we’re talking about a bedroom set that belonged to my parents 40, possibly 50 years ago. There’s the hook. I’m a nostalgist. A sentimentalist. I can purge with the best of them, except when it comes to stuff given to me by someone I care about or by someone who has passed away. In the case of death, I live by this senseless rule that somehow it’s worse to offend the dead than the living. Not enough therapy.

Dresser as media cabinet with picture ledge – oh how I loved it!

It turns out, however, the dresser from said bedroom set made a lovely media cabinet. The television could get off the floor, I didn’t have to toss the family furniture out the door, and I wouldn’t have to live with the guilt of parting with something my Mom gave to me! You say justification, I say crisis averted.

But then I moved, and my new space was problematic for the dresser-turned-media cabinet. See how it sits flush on the floor? The space where it needs to sit in the cottage is over a heat vent. Not cool. Ha! To remedy the situation, I ordered a real media cabinet on legs from Wayfair, and felt indifferent toward it at best. I’m not knocking Wayfair. The cabinet is exactly as described, arrived on time, and without damage. It turns out I’m one of those people who should meet the item in person before purchasing; establish a relationship with the thing. You know, so I can agonize over releasing it years later.

So I asked you, Half Fast and Classy readers, for ideas and y’all came up with some great ones! One idea was to put it on legs, another was to add some type of screen skirt around the bottom so it didn’t look awkward with the legs, and another idea was to put the dresser on bricks. I chose the latter for a couple of reasons: it was easy-peasy and it didn’t cost me a dime. Can I get a woot-woot!

There were four bricks tossed aside in my yard, so I scrubbed them clean and added stick-on furniture pads to prevent floor scratches.

Cleaned bricks with furniture pads attached
A closer look at the brick footings

Here it is on the bricks. What I realized as I was setting this up is that the bricks are totally MCM and are authentic to the era of the dresser. What’s more mid-century than furniture on or made of stacked bricks?

Finished project is perfect! We’ll talk about that split picture ledge another time…

Lastly, one of the reasons this works well in my home is that I don’t have children. If there were children who might pull/push on the dresser or run into it, I would be concerned about it slipping off the bricks. My home is about as low-key as one can be, so it isn’t a concern for me. Definitely keep the kiddos (or rambunctious pets) in mind when you’re doing any kind of modification to furniture.

Where is the Wayfair media cabinet, you ask? Well, it slipped into the dining room because the buffet relocated to the kitchen a few months ago anyway. A long story for another time. Until then,


I Like Cheap Furniture

Several years ago I got it in my head that because I was an adult, I should start investing in quality furniture. I made one such purchase and it turned out to be ridiculous. Why? Because I like to redecorate every few years. If I’m investing in quality furniture at every turn, well, that makes for an expensive hobby. And a whole lot of commitment. The Ethan Allen media cabinet was such a steep investment (for my budget) that I felt obligated to keep it forever. That limited my redecorating options, and so I resented an inanimate object. Nice.

Ethan Allen media cabinet
Media cabinet refuses to budge

When I saw this cabinet in August 2004, I had to have it. It was the first one of this style I had ever seen, and no one was selling anything like it. Now you can find these things everywhere. I paid for the overpriced wooden box and then waited, complained, and fought for over a year before I had possession of the complete piece. To top that off, it was damaged when it arrived, but by that time it was out of production so all they could do was repair rather than replace. I called Ethan Allen headquarters and experienced the worst customer service of my life. Never. Again.

But, by December 2005 it was delivered, repaired to the best of the delivery guy’s ability, and fully ensconced in my home. All 5 million pounds of it. I could not budge that thing an inch, no way, no how. I can feel my anxiety building as I recount this to you because I’m a re-arranger. Things get moved around at my place. I like to change it up. Try out new looks. Not only had I come to the realization that this thing was the most costly item in my estate and therefore not disposable, but it was also going to occupy the same footprint for all of eternity. Yes, I’m being dramatic, but not.

A few years later, enter another source of furniture anxiety. I inherited my parents’ bedroom set after Dad passed away and Mom downsized. Their 1960s mid-century suite is the style, color, shape, and size I love. It’s exactly what I would buy if I had the room. See where this is going? I live in a tiny condo and don’t like clutter. At one point, my little bedroom was home to a bed, chest of drawers, dresser, cedar chest, sewing machine cabinet, plant stand, and jewelry armoire. The wall-to-wall furniture was making me crazy! I tried to give the bedroom set to my sister. Twice. Thank goodness she didn’t take me up on it, because it all worked out in the end.

First, the dresser did some traveling. It started in the bedroom, hung out in the dining room, and was planted in the entryway for a while to catch my keys as I came and went. There was too much furniture in every room and poor dresser wore out its welcome everywhere. It was a beautiful thorn in my minimalist side.

Dresser in the bedroom
Dresser looking crowded in the tiny bedroom

To make my point about redecorating: I no longer have the curtains, bedding, lamps, or bed shown in the photo above. That was so three years ago!

Dresser in the dining room
Dresser looking awkward in the tiny dining room

I tried, without success, to sell the media cabinet. I felt defeated by this thing. But, a year later I listed it again–I had nothing to lose–and it sold. Boom! Goodbye overpriced, too-heavy, messing-with-my-feng-shui albatross! Not only did I pocket a little chunk of cash, it opened up the perfect space for the dresser. The transaction left the largest wall in my condo looking a bit bare, but not to worry. I had been dreaming of a picture ledge for years, and West Elm had exactly what I was looking for. I pounced purchased.

Dresser and West Elm picture ledge
Dresser and West Elm picture ledge
Dresser 1281
Dresser and West Elm picture ledge

The dresser is perfect for this space. When I sold the media cabinet, I gave away the tv and bought a smaller one. That’s right, I downsized my tv, and yes I am feeling fine! I don’t like when the tv dominates my room (I’m not a gamer and I don’t have an in-home theater), and since I live in a small space, it makes sense that I would have a small tv. At least that’s my logic.

The Ethan Allen purchase was my first and last big furniture expenditure. Since then it’s been Target, World Market, Wayfair, and even Steinmart. I bought a dining set at Target and after enjoying it for a few years, I sold it cheap and was happy. Same story for an animal print chair, a console table, and who knows what else–it’s a revolving door here! I may feel differently in a decade, or even tomorrow, but this is what works for me now.

The bottom line is that I love the dresser as a tv stand. And, I get to display some of my favorite pieces of art along with my ukulele on the picture ledge I always wanted. Harmony has been restored to my home. Well, that is, when I learn to play the ukulele!